WASHINGTON — General Motors' decision to idle four U.S. assembly and parts plants could provide ammunition for critics of President Donald Trump's new North American trade agreement, which already faced headwinds to win approval from Congress.
After seizing control of the House in the midterm elections, Democrats are flexing their muscle and insisting on changes to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement — as the replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement is called — in exchange for their support.
That could prolong the uncertainty for the auto industry, which would face higher costs under the deal but be able to mostly preserve existing cross-border supply chains. Getting it through Congress, experts say, will require horse-trading on multiple fronts.
Lawmakers will have an even starker choice if Trump follows through on his threat to withdraw from the original NAFTA.
"The worst outcome is no old NAFTA, no new NAFTA," said William Reinsch, an international trade expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "Trump is putting [lawmakers] in that position. But they don't want to be blamed, including the Democrats, for sending this thing down the drain."